Porsche 911 Targa

Life-sized Tonka truck strug­gles in the real world

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

Twin-turbo power gives this fly­ing fash­ion­ista the sub­stance to match its style

EN­GINE 2981cc flat-6, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo / POWER 309kW @ 6500rpm / TORQUE 500Nm @ 1700-5000rpm / WEIGHT 1580kg / 0-100KM/H 4.0sec (claimed) / PRICE $290,200

IN ITS EARLY forms the 911 Targa was a fash­ion state­ment, its slim sil­ver roll hoop and re­mov­able roof com­pen­sat­ing for a slight loss in sports car pre­ci­sion with a hefty help­ing of ex­tra style. From the 993 se­ries on, how­ever, it es­sen­tially be­came a 911 with a giant sun­roof, a half­way house be­tween coupe and con­vert­ible. To be hon­est, we never re­ally saw the point.

For the 991 ver­sion, how­ever, the glam­our re­turned, the brushed-al­loy roll bar crest­ing the Targa’s crown like the hair ribbon of a 1950s movie star­let. Thank­fully this retro de­sign cue has made the tran­si­tion to the facelifted 991.2, iden­ti­fied by new head- and tail-lights and a re­designed rear lid with ver­ti­cal lou­vres. Com­bined with the wide-body all­wheel drive bodyshell, to these eyes the Targa looks sen­sa­tional, though pos­si­bly an ac­quired taste.

The cloth roof stows elec­tron­i­cally in an el­e­gant me­chan­i­cal ma­noeu­vre, though it takes 25 sec­onds to do so and can’t be op­er­ated on the move.

It’s an amaz­ing feat of en­gi­neer­ing, but un­for­tu­nately it does have a cou­ple of neg­a­tive side ef­fects. First, the re­duced body rigid­ity in­tro­duces a de­gree of body shim­mer over nasty bumps, some­thing ex­ac­er­bated by the Targa’s stiff-legged ride.

Smooth sur­faces pose no dif­fi­cul­ties, but for a car with­out the sport­ing pre­ten­sions of a Car­rera we’d pre­fer the Targa’s cur­rent Nor­mal set­ting be re­branded Sport and a softer, more com­fort-ori­ented set­ting to be avail­able for day-to-day use.

Yes, this is a Porsche, but it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a road sce­nario where you’d need the stiffer sus­pen­sion set­ting, partly be­cause body con­trol is al­ready so good in Nor­mal.

Se­condly, the roof mech­a­nism adds an­other 80kg over the rear of the al­ready bum-heavy 911, which means the Targa re­ally re­quires a cer­tain tech­nique to ex­tract the best from it. Just like 911s of old, pick up the throt­tle too early in a turn and the un­loaded front tyres will eas­ily push wide. Ro­tate the car suf­fi­ciently, how­ever, some­thing made eas­ier by the clever all-wheel steer­ing, use the 911’s in­her­ent trac­tion – boosted fur­ther by stan­dard all-wheel drive – and you’re fired out of cor­ners like a rocket.

Like all 991.2 911s, the Targa range is now fit­ted with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six, pro­duc­ing 272kW/450Nm in the reg­u­lar Targa 4 and 309kW/500Nm in our 4S test car. In re­gards to the Car­rera we’re still on the fence as to whether the ex­tra pace of the new turbo en­gine com­pen­sates for the high-rpm scream of the old

atmo 3.8, but boost has un­doubt­edly im­proved the Targa.

The mas­sive in­crease in mid-range torque ren­ders the weight in­crease largely ir­rel­e­vant – 0-100km/h is a claimed 4.0sec with PDK and Sport Chrono – and the less fre­netic power de­liv­ery feels to suit the Targa’s more re­laxed modus operandi. The new en­gine doesn’t sound as raw as the old but pos­sesses a per­son­al­ity all of its own, its rich flat-six howl over­laid with au­di­ble chirps and whis­tles from the tur­bos.

Open­ing the roof makes this unique sound­track even more ac­ces­si­ble, how­ever there is a fair amount of wind in­tru­sion, es­pe­cially for those in the rear. Given the tiny pews are re­ally only suit­able for small chil­dren ex­pect com­plaints, though per­haps they’ll be drowned out by the wind. The rest of the 991.2 911 cabin is short on glitz and high on qual­ity and func­tion­al­ity, with the new smart­phone-like PSM in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem one of the best we've used.

At $290,200 ($316,880 as-tested), the Targa 4S will ap­peal to a very small num­ber of well-heeled en­thu­si­asts. It might be GT3 money, but re­al­is­ti­cally buy­ers will be crossshop­ping the likes of the BMW M6 Con­vert­ible or Maserati GranCabrio, nei­ther of which could hold a can­dle to the 911 in per­for­mance terms, though AMG’s forth­com­ing GT Road­ster may be a dif­fer­ent story.

With the GT3 gone (for the mo­ment), MO­TOR’s 911 of choice would be a base Car­rera, how­ever there’s a real and un­ex­pected charm to the Targa. It looks great, is in­cred­i­bly fast and while it isn’t quite as sharp as the hard­top, it’s still more than ca­pa­ble of thrilling on a chal­leng­ing bit of road. It’s quite the fash­ion state­ment.

Good look­ing and in­cred­i­bly fast, there's a real and un­ex­pected charm to the Targa

GT3 money, but the Targa is the 911 for those who pre­fer a more re­laxed pace

991.2 911 can be iden­ti­fied by new 'three di­men­sional' tail-lights and the ver­ti­cal lou­vres on the en­gine lid

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